Friday, April 8, 2011


photo: Luigi Salemi
All week I've been reviewing the galleys for Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux, (forthcoming, please God, from Paraclete Press in September, by me) and all week I've been testy and withdrawn. Endnotes, permissions requests, the proper form for quoting Bible passages: I'm reminded why, among other reasons, I so did not enjoy being a lawyer. I'm as meticulous as the next person when I have to be, but using that kind of energy drains the energy that ordinarily goes into reflecting, making connections, and snacking. And though my copy editor could hardly be more generous, forbearing, and thorough, really, I want to say: Isn't it enough I wrote the damn book?

Cause that's the kind of person I am, in or out of Lent!

Into this abysmal state of mind came an e-mail the other day from one Luigi Salemi, an up and coming architect from Johannesburg, South Africa. "I have been riveted, mostly by your witness," he wrote. "I find great consolation in your person, in the fact that there is someone out there like you, and I thank God for you!"

photo: Luigi Salemi
You can be sure I warmed to this clearly fine young man on the spot and went right to his FB page. Here I found photos of the amazing private home he's designed in Barberton, Mpumalanga (I bet you think I didn't know where that was). I also unearthed a Traces article called  "The Second Synod for Africa." Africa is "the most lacerated continent and, at the same time, the protagonist of an exceptional increase in faithful"--author Allessandra Stoppa notes, which, along with these photos, makes me want to visit this beautiful part of the earth at least once before I die...

photo: Luigi Salemi

"I think the beauty of this house," says architect Luigi Salemi who designed it, "is that it doesn’t point to its own beauty but the beauty of the creation, which is the sign of the Mystery who created it. It’s by no means a humble home but its humility lies in the fact that it opens out to the rest of reality, which is awe-strikingly beautiful!"

Or as Victor Hugo observed in Les Misérables"We must say, by the way, that the hatred of luxury is not an intelligent hatred. It implies a hatred of the arts."


  1. Sounds like, despite the enervating work on the notes for the book, your recent days have been filled with blessings and salutary revelations!

  2. Thank you for this post.My nephew is in Afghanistan.The dedication of these young heroes shown in the video give me hope for his safe return.Please pray for Seth.I was very moved.I found your blog by accident and read it regularly.My daughter lives in LA; we live in TX.Feels good to know someone like you is in her "home"town.Don't know why, but I always get that sense when I read your work.Please pray for Paloma.I'm a Catholic convert as of 2005.Your struggle is real and I feel encouraged by it.Thanx.Did you see the relic of St. Mary Magdalene when it came to LA in February-March?I convinced my daughter to go see it; she experienced a "sense of relief" while there.Incremental conversion, I hope.God bless you.

  3. oh wow a relic of Mary Magdalene came to L.A.?...How did I miss THAT?...Paloma and Seth are on my prayer list, thank you for checking in, glad the blog helps, and God bless you as well...

  4. Thanks for your visit up North this morning. I am new to the Catholics at Work gang and the trip from Berkeley to Country Club, California was interesting... it was good to chat with you a bit at the end.

    Listening to you talk about following passion and trusting that God's will for us really is in the deep joys of life (even though this joy often, if not always, means sacrifice) was a great way to start the day. I recently gave up "full-time work" to live my life -- and I have (almost) never looked back. It demands living more simply -- a blessing in itself -- and has helped me to be intentional about what I choose to do for "work" instead of letting work dictate who I am. Thanks for inspiring and encouraging us to live life well, following passion and seeking God ... which I have discovered can be one and the same journey!


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